Empty-nester has more to do before she kicks the bucket

By Kristina Jackson

Carolyn Besa started her bucket list long before the release of the movie of the same name.

She first created it about 20 years ago. Since then, she and her husband have traveled to Germany and Australia and, most recently, to Kansas City for a hot air balloon ride. But Besa still has more things she would like to accomplish.

“In life, each of us comes up with things we want to do” Besa said. “But we were always busy with our children and didn’t get the chance.”

Besa and her husband, Rudy, began putting together this list when their children left home.

“Our children were finally adults, and that freed up some money,” she said, “so we came up with this list of wishes.”

Besa, who works at the Irwin Army Hospital at Fort Riley as a health systems assistant, traveled with her husband to Kansas City two weeks ago for the Great Midwest Balloon Fest, where they went up in the National Guard balloon. After climbing into the basket, the couple drifted for about 10 miles before they had to come down, which Besa said was a challenge.

“They don’t have just a big X in the middle of farm fields,” she said.

The operator shouted down to a few farmers before finally finding an empty field for their landing. The Besas helped roll up the balloon and Besa said she found the whole experience peaceful.

The first items on Besa’s list were crossed off years ago.

About 20 years ago, she traveled to Germany, where her son-in-law was stationed with the Army. A few years later she visited her son when he was living in Australia. They took a trip to the Gold Coast and Besa was struck by the clear blue water and the coral reef.

“It’s interesting to see the beauty of our world,” she said.

Now that Besa has accomplished these items on her list, she hopes to check off more in the next few years. At the top of the list is a helicopter ride with the Army.

“I’ve always been enchanted by them when they come in for Medevac,” Besa said.

Besa also wants to take a trip to Washington, D.C. She said that after working for the government for almost 40 years, she would like to visit the nation’s capital. If she can do those things, she’d like to take another international trip, this time to Ireland.

Besa plans to retire next September, which will free up some time to shrink her bucket list.

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